Influx of Immigrant Children From Central America

One of the top stories in the news during 2014 was about the influx of undocumented immigrant children at the U.S. southern border. More than 60,000 children crossed the border during 2014 seeking refuge in the United States. Many of these children were fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala and were detained at the border by U.S. Customs.  More than 43,000  of these children have been relocated with family members and sponsors in the United States.

In this blog, I wish to present some of the articles and reports describing who these children are and how they have been received in U.S. schools. It is my view that more national organizations of teachers need to follow  the lead of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and issue position papers on this issue.

Children Seeking Refuge in the United States is an infographic from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) about the children who are entering the United States and where they have found family or sponsors.

Recent Surge in Unaccompanied Children; The Need for Policy Change, from First Focus. This article examines how immigrant children were treated in immigration detention centers. One of the most shocking descriptions is of children appearing in court with no legal guardian or counsel.

Unaccompanied Children is a collection of links about unaccompanied minors and features news article from cities across the United States who have welcomed these children.

America Must Uphold Its Obligations to Protect Children and Families Fleeing Persecution, from the American Immigration Council explains the responsibility that the United States has toward the unaccompanied children who have crossed our Southern border. It shows how our immigration court system needs to function more efficiently. (27% of these children are not represented by a lawyer)

Young Migrants May Request Asylum, But It’s Hard to Get. This article reviews the list of what immigrant children must do to prove eligibility for asylum. Two major requirements are applicants must prove that they have been singled out for persecution because of race, nationality, or religion, and that they have not received protection from their government.

Unaccompanied Children: Resource Section for Schools and Staff, from Colorin Colorado. This is an excellent compilation of resources for schools with unaccompanied immigrant children. It includes a fact sheets and policy reports as well as a list of films about the horrendous journey that these children experienced.

Educational Services for Immigrant Children and Those Recently Arrived to the U.S., from the U.S. Department of Education. Although schools have always welcomed new immigrants, many districts are inquiring about services to those undocumented immigrant children  from Central America. This fact sheet reviews the responsibility that schools have to enroll these students.

Unaccompanied Minors Bring Hope, Past Trauma to American Schools is a report containing  scenarios about the experiences of  recent immigrants in U.S. schools.

Undocumented Children in School. This excellent document is a collaboration of the National School Boards Association and The National Education Association. It is based on careful consideration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s only legal opinion in the area of schooling for undocumented children, the 1982 Plyer v. Doe case, which ruled that undocumented students have a constitutional right to attend public schools for free.
Have you been affected by this recent influx of immigrants? Whether you have or not, what do you think we, as educators, can and should do to help?


About Judie Haynes

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes taught elementary ESL for 28 years and is the author and coauthor of eight books for teachers of ELs , the most recent being “Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress“ with Debbie Zacarian and Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz. She was a columnist for the TESOL publication "Essential Teacher" and is also cofounder and comoderator of the Twitter Chat for teachers of English learners #ELLCHAT.
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